By Uduma Kalu
It could only happen in Port Harcourt, the city now referred as the World Book Capital. Here, literature has become so common that even wedding feats are now turned into literary festivals, thanks to the Garden city Literary Festivals, and the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Rivers state branch.
Vanguard Arts witnessed such a wedding/literary fiesta recently in the city last Jan 12 when constitutional/human rights lawyer and poet, Angus Obinna Chukwuka, walked the aisles with his heartthrob, Miss Anita Nnenna Nwaeze.
Though it began like a normal wedding, it soon became a literary event, with book and poetry taking over at the reception. Everyone that graced the event, including former NBA chairman, O C J Okocha, Dr Gabriel Okara , the poet, Prof Charles Nnoli and representative of Elechi Amadi, Ruskin Amadi, confirmed that indeed, when poets wed, words grow wings. Books become cakes which words are made. They swear by the word. They are united by wordsmiths, priests of the word.
Then the literary awards followed, with the conferment of honours on Africa’s three reputed literary icons to wit: Dr Gabriel Okara(poet),Captain Elechi Amadi (novelist) ,and professor Charles Nnoli(literary critic).
And the words grew wings. Instead of cakes or drinks, it was the presentation of a book, The Bridegroom, a 162- page anthology of poems by the groom, Chukwuka
The guests were shocked when Chairman of the occasion, Okocha, drew attention of the book at the wedding. Dr Gabriel Okara ,internationally renown poet presented the poetry collection while Nnoli delivered a supporting and critical commentary. A timely distinction was made by Okocha between book presentation and book launch while hinting that the book was merely presented and not launched and that purchase of the work was to commence after the event.
The high point of the event was the conferment of the Lifetime Literary Achievement award on the trio of Dr Okara, Captain Elechi Amadi and Prof Nnolim. This part of the event tagged post wedding was chaired by Hon Adokie Amiesimaka, former Rivers State commissioner for justice and Attorney-General. Both Okara and Nnolim personally received their plaques of honour while that for Elechi Amadi was received on his behalf by Mr Ruskin Amadi as captain Amadi was out of the country at the time.
The Awards were presented on the platform of Law Sector Chambers, A literature friendly law firm managed by the Groom. The awards were conferred on the icons in recognition of their special literary endowments and use of same to promote literature and human development consistently through the years.
Dr Okara and Prof Nnolim who expressed pleasant surprises thanked the couple for their thoughfulness. Dr Okara described the event as very unusual and trail blazing. Chukwua stated that the programme was packaged as such to inspire writers to make optimum use of their ceremonies and events to promote their talents ,books and literature generally.